This Saturday, something really really great has been started in Fujisaki. A new tourist information desk is now officially opened. Here, you can ask any question about Sendai particularly and Tohoku in general in Chinese, Korean and English, use free Wi-Fi and learn more about Sendai walking tours and activities. This is exactly what is needed to make Sendai more approachable towards foreign tourists.
The opening ceremony was visited by Sendai city mayor Emiko Okuyama. “We hope that this information desk will present to foreigners some places that were hidden from their site, like little shrines and speciality shops, deepening their impression of Sendai”, she said in her speech.
After the opening ceremony, the information desk was immediately opened for curious foreigners, and three assistants had a rather tough start, carefully answering question after question. Sendai Motions decided to ask some of the first information desk visitors about their impressions.
Lily (France) asked if it possible to book Loople bus for a sightseeing tour with a French-speaking guide. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible, but the staff assured her that this possibility should be considered.
Daphne (Austria) wanted to know more about Sendai souvenirs. “Their English is very good. In other information centers, I had an impression that they don’t quite understand what I am talking about, but here they do present some valuable info. Great experience!” she concluded.
Trishit from India was very impressed by the service. “Local people can tell you more than booklets and guide books, and I think it is very useful in making Sendai more attractive to foreign visitors!”
Arunawa from India was satisfied, too. He received some sushi restaurant recommendations, and, in return, suggested to make more translations for Loople bus booklet. “At least French, Spanish and Arabic is definitely needed”, he said.
Hsin Jung and Kang Hung from Taiwan had a talk with a information assistant in Chinese. They were fully satisfied with the answer, provided by a native Chinese speaker.
After everyone got an answer they were looking for, we asked the assistants about their first working day.
“I think, it will be a tough job for me, but it is fun. I’m glad that foreign students asked us about other Tohoku prefectures, too. I hope more and more people will travel around Tohoku!” said Ms. Takayama, “But we should study more to fulfill our mission. Tokyo Olympics are on the way, so there should become more tourists in Tohoku as well”.
Ms. Takayama and her colleages had some hard questions. Where can I go for Hatsumode (a visit to a shrine or a temple on the first day of New Year) if I have already visited Osaki Hachimangu and Shiogama Jinjya? Are there French-speaking guides in Sendai? The assistants have to know everything! “I feel nervous when I have to recommend places that I have never been myself”, says Ms. Takayama.
Judging from the visitors’ impressions, the assistants are doing great. Everyday will bring them new challenges, new maniac questions, but Sendai Motions team hopes that their smiles will always shine as bright as they were this Saturday, and that from now on Sendai will become famous for having the friendliest tourist information desk in Japan!